Why You Should Undercook Air Fryer Chicken Breasts On Purpose

Chicken breasts are notoriously unforgiving. Overcook one by just a minute or so and you're left with dry, tasteless meat. And then, of course, everyone's been at the opposite end of the spectrum and cut into a piece of chicken they thought was done only to see it pink and raw in the middle. Some people swear by the air fryer for perfectly cooked chicken breast, but be sure to follow this tip next time: Undercook your protein on purpose.


Chicken is safe to consume once it has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, but taking it out of the air fryer once it has reached 155 or 160 degrees is a pro-tip that your taste buds will thank you for. Place the cooked chicken on a plate, cover it tightly with foil, and allow it to rest for five or 10 minutes and let the process of carry-over cooking work its magic. That's right; the chicken will continue to cook once it's removed from the air fryer. Removing it from the heat source when it is just slightly undercooked and letting it rest will allow it to come to a perfect 165 degrees Fahrenheit and you'll have moist, juicy chicken.

Undercooking your chicken is Ina Garten-approved

If you needed some convincing that this tip is legit, take it from Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa shared the same advice on social media and explained why she undercooks her chicken on purpose. "You won't believe what a difference this makes!" the chef and TV star wrote on Instagram. "It will keep cooking to 165 degrees as it rests under the foil, at which point it will still be hot and fully cooked."


Garten also recommends leaving the chicken skin on for best results. The membrane acts as a barrier keeping all the juices in and stopping them from evaporating. Similarly, another simple swap that prevents overcooking is bone-in chicken. Not only does leaving the bone in lead to more nutrients in the meat, but it also results in more moisture and flavor because the bone is surrounded by fat, which melts away into the meat during the cooking process.

The dangers of undercooked chicken

Although a definite downer for your dinner plans, undercooked chicken can also present a much greater problem in the form of foodborne illness. Raw or undercooked chicken can be contaminated with bacteria that causes food poisoning, such as salmonella. Roughly one in 25 packages of chicken at the grocery store is contaminated with salmonella, the CDC estimates, which means cooking to the proper temperature every time is absolutely necessary. This factoid also reinforces the need to wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw chicken.


Whether you are air frying, roasting, grilling, or pan frying your chicken, always check the doneness of the finished product with a meat thermometer before sitting down to enjoy. If you are undercooking on purpose to leverage that carry-over cooking, that means checking the temperature twice: Once when you initially remove the chicken from the air fryer, and once after it has rested under foil for 10 minutes.